FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM
The year is 1926 and Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident…were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.
This is yet another prequel to a very beloved franchise of films, we’ve seen this down with Star Wars to minimal success, we’ve seen this done with Lord Of The Rings to meh success, The Hobbit films were okay but nothing spectacular, and now it’s Harry Potter’s turn to get in on it with a film that takes place seven years before the events of the first Harry Potter movie.
And with that much of a pedigree on board, you’ve got David Yates, the man who directed most of the really good Harry Potter movies, author J.K. Rowling is making her screenwriting debut, the cast is really solid, the trailers have done a good job selling us this new story in the universe of Harry Potter, how can you go wrong on any level?
Well…okay, I know that the Harry Potter franchise has a long standing fanbase and I’m not gonna go against them, I love the Harry Potter movies, they get better with each and every film that came out, those movies I will not take away from anybody. I’m just going to judge this movie and this new franchise of films on their own merits, I’m not gonna let it take away any enjoyment I had for those eight movies.
With that said, my god, this was a massive disappointment.
I mean, just wow, this was unbelievably underwhelming and it’s a shame because there is so much here that could be exciting and work and some of it does but the things that make it not work really hurt it.
Let’s look at the positives first. First up, the cast is great in this, Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander is really solid, Katherine Waterson, the breakout star of both Inherent Vice and Steve Jobs, is really great as Tina Goldstein, I really loved Allison Sudol as Queenie, she just seemed like she was having a ball with this role, finally somebody is using Dan Fogler to good use, I thought he was excellent in this as Jacob. You also got good performances from Carmen Ejogo as President Picquery, Colin Farrell does a decent job as Graves, although I’ll get more into him in my biggest gripes with this film, and even Ezra Miller has some effectively creepiness to him as Credence. So, there’s a really solid cast here that pulls the movie through.
The creatures in the film are really impressively handled too, the effects work in here is nicely done, the creativity on the designs are very impressively handled and the overall visual look of the movie is nicely executed.
So, okay, this all sounds like something in line with the Harry Potter movies, right? So, where does the movie end up falling flat? How about everything else?
First off, we never really get an understanding of why magic is banned in America, they never explain why it is like this, and they never feel the need to let the audience in on what’s going on, why is everything like it is, it helps to explain these things instead of holding that off for future films…another complaint we’ll delve into a little bit.
Second, the lame attempts at comedy here are horrendously done, there’s actual genuine laughs in this but when you have to resort to grossout jokes that are just there to be cheap grossout jokes, you’re not even trying to be clever.
Third, the story is all over the place, there’s way too many changing storylines in this movie. First part, a man with a magical suitcase full of creatures comes to New York, the monsters get loose and now he has to find them all. That’s fine. Second, this is a world where magic is banished in America and any element of magic revealed leads to disaster, okay. Third, there’s a group of anti-magic protesters preaching about the existence of witches and other magical people, okay??? Fourth, the boy the main protestor cares for may or not be using magical powers for evil, uh, sure? Fifth, there’s a US senator that is against these protestors and thinks magic doesn’t exist period, too much here guys. Sixth, there’s actually a much bigger threat in Gellert Grindelwald, come on, enough already.
There is way too many story elements here for one movie and not only that, this story goes all over the place, they start forgetting their own stuff. That senator subplot, completely overlooked once he keels over. The Obscurus, how the hell did it escape from Newt’s suitcase? We never see how it does but it just somehow gets away from Newt’s suitcase at some point in the film. The big conflict of the movie is when the president says that “if our magic isn’t contained and gets out to the no-majs, we’re doomed.” Guess what the fuck happens? The Obscurus breaks out and starts causing mayhem and the no-majs now know what the hell is going on…so, oops…oh, but don’t worry, we’ll have an amnesia rainstorm fall over the city so everybody forgets what just happened here…yeah, where the hell was that earlier on in the movie?
The biggest problem this movie has is its’ idea that we’re going to turn this into a new franchise so we’re going to do whatever it takes to make as many teases and hints to future films as they possibly can and let me tell you folks something, this is fucking overkill, this is more overkill than it was in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Batman V Superman, and Fantastic Four combined. If there was actually a point in this film that would be important to have a tease, then it would be fine. But no, they are all nothing but teases for future films that may or may not happen depending on how well this does at the box office.
Now, a WARNING, I’m about to spoil something big in the end of the movie here so if you really don’t want to know what happens at the end, then stop reading now.
With that said, my biggest fault with this movie is with Colin Farrell’s character, Percival Graves. Like I said, he was perfectly fine in the movie but this movie is so lazy at trying to make you think that he’s not the bad guy but come on, the first shot of him in this movie, they make it so obvious that he’s the main villain, they don’t even hide it, that’s how much the writing for this does not give a crap. But on top of that, it’s bad enough that they make Farrell so obviously the bad guy but remember Gellert Grindlewald, the dark wizard that was mentioned all throughout the film, the guy who was considered to be this series’ version of Voldemort? Well, guess what happens at the end, Using the Revelio Charm, Graves is revealed to be Gellert Grindelwald (played by Johnny Depp), the most notorious Dark Wizard in the world. He is arrested and taken back to MACUSA.
Are you fucking kidding me???? So, the most notorious Dark Wizard has been around you this entire time and yet NOBODY, absolutely NOBODY, knew about it. Not even Tina’s sister, Queenie, who can read minds, she couldn’t figure it out that this dude was Grindlewald? How dumb are these fucking wizards anyway? And not only that, it’s a stupid way to bring this whole story full circle and it makes absolutely no sense, not once in this movie except for the opening is Grindlewald mentioned in detail.
So, why does this ending feel like it was put in and thrown in there at the last minute? Guess what? That’s exactly what happened, they deliberately put that scene in at the last minute to get Johnny Depp to appear in a cameo for future films in the series because heaven forbid, we need to give Johnny Depp yet another fucking film franchise to take over. Not only that but because Depp and Farrell also played the same person in The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus with Jude Law, when all three of them filled the role from the late Heath Ledger, it just feels like this odd and bizarre irony move by the filmmakers. Like they saw Dr. Parnassus and said, Colin Farrell and Johnny Depp, the same person? What an idea, we’ll throw it in here to screw over the audience even more.
This ending really made me mad for just how lazy and uninspired it was and it’s one of the many reasons why this trainwreck of a movie fails miserably.
Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them is yet another misfire by Warner Bros. trying to find their next big franchise and that’s part of the reason why the movie fails, 75% of this movie is nothing but creating a new franchise and that’s it, the whole movie comes off as nothing but a cashgrab and it overshadows the things that make the movie work, the cast is really good, the visuals are really good, the creatures are really good, none of that really matters if the whole movie doesn’t come together.
The film fails because of a bad script with too many subplots and plot canyons and holes, too many stupid twists and turns, a bad ending that was thrown together at the last minute to just get a cameo for yet more teasing. The whole movie is a fucking cocktease for future films that may or may not actually happen. It’s the second biggest big budget misfire for WB this year and while this isn’t nearly as catastrophic and disastrous as Batman V Superman was, it’s pretty damn close. What a colossal misfire this was.
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